Very little of the $12 billion spent in political advertising this year will find its way into Black hands.


WASHINGTON – Borrell Associates, an ad-tracking firm, said that of an estimated $11.7 billion that will be spent on political campaigns this election cycle, $5.9 billion will go to broadcast television, $1.2 billion to cable, $1.2 billion to digital/online, $916.1 million to radio and $882 million to newspapers.


Presidential candidates and supporting political action committees could spend upward of $2 billion on political advertising.

But local African-American-owned media outlets across the country – TV and radio stations, digital-only outlets, and newspapers –  say they’re getting few ad buys.

It’s a long-standing complaint from African-American media owners and Black elected officials that’s gotten louder each presidential election year – even during Barack Obama’s successful 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

Nothing new
“We’ve been traditionally frustrated,” said James Winston, president of the National Association of Black Broadcasters. “It seems that every campaign season, the parties view advertising in African-American-owned media as an afterthought, usually a week or two before the election.”

160930_front01bMembers of the Congressional Black Caucus say they’ve been frustrated, too. Congressman Alcee Hastings, who in a 2013 speech to the National Newspapers Publishers Association criticized Obama’s 2012 campaign for not spending enough in Black-owned media, said he’d taken his concerns directly to Clinton campaign officials recently.

“I’ve talked with (campaign Chairman) John Podesta, and they at least know my sentiments, and I’ve made it known to the public that I don’t think they are conducting the kind of ground game that I would conduct, and I don’t think they’re spending enough money in Black newspapers and radio,” he said.

GOP no better
Democrats aren’t the only ones complaining.

Clarence McKee, an African-American Trump supporter who was a Federal Communications Commission attorney, thinks that Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party are leaving votes on the table by not courting African-Americans voters through local Black-owned media.

He said the party is missing out on reaching some of Florida’s 237,568 African-American registered voters who aren’t affiliated with any party and may be persuaded to cast ballots for Trump and GOP congressional candidates.

“It’s one side saying, ‘We don’t have to worry about those folks’ and the Republican Party establishment saying, ‘We don’t need them. They won’t vote for us, anyway,’” McKee said.

Could elect Trump
Black Republicans are especially disappointed, because focusing on turning out Black Republicans and Black non-party-affiliated voters could turn the tide for Trump in Florida, and put him in the Oval Office.

If Trump got into double digits among Florida’s Black voters, that could make it impossible for Clinton to win Florida’s 29 electoral votes. Obama got 96 percent of the Black vote in Florida in 2008 and 95 percent in 2012. Republican President George W. Bush got 13 percent in his 2004 re-election.

“(Trump) doesn’t need to win every Black vote, he just needs to convince Black voters that Hillary is not their candidate,” Michael Barnett, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, said.

“I see Donald Trump winning a significant percentage of the Black vote. When I say significant, I mean a bigger percentage than (Mitt Romney) won in 2012, somewhere around the high teens, the low 20s would be ideal and a big coup for a presidential candidate. And I think he can do it.”

‘Give me a chance’
Trump regularly devotes parts of his stump speech to explaining his view that life is so bad for African-Americans, especially in urban areas, that they should vote for him. One line of Trump’s reasoning is that African-Americans couldn’t fare any worse than they do now.

Barnett said Trump helped himself during one of his recent stops in Miami, where he met with a group of leaders in Little Haiti.

A CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker poll of Florida voters released Sept. 11 found that 93 percent of Florida voters said they definitely will vote. Among Black voters, 87 percent said they definitely would vote.

No Black ‘reach’?
Tad Devine, a political consultant who worked on Democratic presidential campaigns from Al Gore to Bernie Sanders, said he’s heard and understands the concerns. He said campaigns aren’t slighting local Black-owned media. It’s just a matter of economics.

“You know it’s really important to mobilize African-American voters in Detroit if you want to win Michigan, for example,” he said. “The owners of the African-American outlets in Detroit say, ‘Well, listen, if you want to reach that audience our newspaper or our publication is the best way to do it.’

“You look at the numbers that are associated with the reach of that publication and they’re miniscule compared to buying an ad on network television that reaches a very large African-American audience.”

Tuesday, the campaign announced that it will air a radio ad aimed at African-American millennials that will run in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“We are not taking anything for granted, and we have made key investments in the African-American community through outreach, paid media and grass-roots organizing,” said Marlon Marshall, Clinton’s director of state campaigns and political engagement.

“It won’t just be the big outlets,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said of the Clinton campaign’s Black media strategy heading into November. “It’s going to be small weekly newspapers as well.”

William Douglas of the McClatchy Washington Bureau and Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel (MCT) contributed to this report.




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